You don’t write books? No matter! For your letters, business documents, and may I dare say texts and emails?, and other areas where you communicate, can become stronger and smoother.
Or perhaps you will say my “tips” are actually “tics.” You decide. Meanwhile, I can drive myself crazy reading/listening . . . ungh . . . but I won’t! I won’t, I say!
When I see my own mistakes in my own earlier writing—earlier even could mean my last novel—ungh! Or a recent blog post when I was in a hurry and/or distracted—oh dear! I am shamed, shaaaaaaaamed! *kat hangs head*
Yet, many times I throw rules right out the window and simply go by the rhythm of the phrase/sentence. I want my work to be rhythmic but in a natural way, so breaking the rules is sometimes necessary to create a mood or feeling or a sentence that Fits. And of course, when I write in a character’s voice/pov, I must be true to that voice/pov—not all characters will be as picky as: is it picky as me or picky as I?—it is I (am)—see below! Virginia Kate has her VK’isms and I stand true to them; Melissa is the storyteller in Sweetie and she’s a bit more “formal” in her speech.
So tip or tic?
There are times you can “finish the thought/sentence” or re-arrange it and this can help you to find the “correct” grammar or sentence structure. As in the following:
I and Me.
“You and I” is often used for everything because people are afraid of saying/writing it incorrectly, but sometimes “you and me” is correct.
Harry and me had a great time eating kumquats. No.
Harry and I had a great time eating kumquats. Correct.
Harry had a great time eating kumquats. I had a great time eating kumquats.
Water is good for you and I. No.
Water is good for you and me. Correct
Water is good for you. Water is good for I – sounds funny, right? Water is good for me.
Not everyone is as picky as me. No.
Not everyone is as picky as I (am). Correct.
I am picky. Me is picky.
She is better than I (am) to craft these examples.
She is better than me to craft these examples.
She is better than I am. She is better than me am.
Between you and me, this can be really confusing
Between you and I, this can be really confusing.
Guess which one is it? It’s the first one!
Between you, and between me, this is really confusing. Between you, and between I, this is really confusing.
See? Clear as the mud you just threw in my face, right? Haw!
The Split Infinitive:
To be or not to be is not to be or to not be. Haha! To be or to not be just doesn’t have the same rhythm does it?
I split many an infinitive in my life, and sometimes it does make the sentence read smoother. However, most times I unsplit my infinitives and lean back with an ahhhh. Am I never to do it again? Or am I to never do it again—ha! I am never to do it again! To and do go together, not to be split by never.
I am never to speak of it again! I am to never speak of it again! The first one: to speak! Not: to never.
Aw, now, I think those are great examples. *kat sniffs a bit sardonically at those who are poo-pooing her and yes I know I spelled poo poo incorrectly in this instance – huh.*
Take to/bring back.
This one is in honor of my father, who drummed it into my head over and over. I can hear him so clearly:
“It’s take to, bring back. Say it, Kathy, take to, bring back.” (My family called/calls me Kathy—no one else is allowed! Dang you!).
We take something to and then we bring back from. Take me to the grocery for cookies, or bring me back some cookies. Although I don’t like “bring me back some cookies;” I like “If you show up from the grocery without any cookies, you’ll regret it! By gawd!”
I’ve got. Pull out the sentence and see how it reads/sounds:
“I’ve got a cup of coffee by my side.”
“I have got a cup of coffee by my side.” Awkward!
Perhaps try: “I have a cup of coffee by my side,” or “I’ve a cup of coffee in my stomach.” (well, now I do!)
You’ve rid yourself of an extra word, to boot! Now doesn’t that feel zippity do dah day! Come on, doesn’t it? *kat is starting to (see below)—no—kat is feeling a bit discombobulated*
“Got” tends to drive me batty, for it is oft-times used excessively, and once I “notice” a word—as in: got, or had, or suddenly, then my brain BUMPS on it.
Farther is a physical distance. I am farther from the kitchen than you are.
Further is not a physical distance. “You are further along in your chef career than I am.”
The farther she walked down that long dusty road, the further her thoughts spiraled into bing bang bongs dang-a-lang-a-ding-dongs.
Snuck is a colloquialism. Yes, I recognize that “snuck” is universally accepted. But . . . still . . . sneaked is correct! “I sneaked to the kitchen to steal cookies” instead of “I snuck to the kitchen to steal cookies.” The only time I use “snuck” is in dialogue, because some of my characters do say “snuck” just as many (most) people do.
We all say or have said “started to.” I wrote “started to” quite frequently until it “started to” blare out at me as extra words that are not required. Can “started to” be changed to a more direct action?
It started to rain: It rained. I started to cry. I cried. I starting running or I started to run. I ran. I started to pull out my hair. I pulled out my hair. You started to pull out Kathryn’s hair for all these tic/tips. You pulled out Kathryn’s hair and watched her cry—oh wait . . . ungh.
We are not perfect writing machines, but the more we do instinctively and naturally, the less time spent on “fixing” what we write, or even how we speak; though I admit my “Speak” is much more casual than my “Write.” Our editors, bosses, Aunt Pitty Mae Joeleen who was an English teacher long long long ago, and whomever else cares about this stuff (hey, I do and I bet they do, too!) will notice and love you for it. And even if they do not know why they love you for it, you will know why and be the stronger for it.
What do you think? And do you have any tics/tips you are strict about in your language?
As always, if I ferckled up anything, feel free to point er out!
Touty Plug of the Day:
My lil ole kathrynmagendie.com author/editor website that the wonderful and beautiful Kim of TechBelle created. She did a lovely job and I often forget to go by there and update it; shame on me! There’s links and pics and info and bio and etc etc etc . . . .